In the world of sports, proteins are often talked about because they have all kinds of beneficial properties for athletes. These are essential components of all our cells, which are present in a multitude of foods. Therefore, some athletes follow a special diet, in order to increase their protein intake and thus increase their muscle mass.
Essential Molecules for life
Proteins are large molecules, essential for life because they represent the only source of nitrogen in the body. They are formed from amino acids, which are small molecules made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen atoms. There are about twenty in total. These combine in multiple ways to form proteins of different size and complexity. It is considered that about 100 amino acids are needed together to form a protein.
Some proteins form the weave of all the organs of the body (the structural proteins), others are functional, like those that form our antibodies, enzymes, hormones or even our hemoglobin. The body also has the ability to transform one amino acid into another according to its needs, except in the case of 8 specific amino acids, which are called essential amino acids. If one of these essential amino acids is missing or present in an insufficient amount, the process of protein synthesis is blocked.
- It is important to know that all cells in our body are made of proteins and that the organization of these is genetically encoded, so that it varies according to the individuals, which explains the rejections in organ transplants.
There are two kinds of proteins: proteins of animal origin and proteins of plant origin, and the two types are equally important.
The interest in Proteins
As we have said, proteins play a decisive role in our organism. They are responsible for the construction and repair of certain organs. In addition, they renew our skin, our hair and our muscular tissues daily. They also help us to strengthen our defenses against external aggression.
When intense physical activity is practiced, they are still more essential because they favor the development of muscle mass. The muscles are made from amino acids, which are used by the body to repair damaged muscle tissues. Therefore, the concept of proteins is very important in the case of bodybuilders. The sport demands, in general, to greater protein contribution, as during pregnancy or lactation.
How should we consume Proteins?
Proteins are constantly renewed in our body and are made from the food we eat. The proteins present in these foods are divided into amino acids during digestion, so that the body can then use them to form their own proteins. Therefore, it is recommended to consume protein-rich foods in the 3 daily meals.
- Obviously, protein needs vary depending on weight, age and muscle activity. In general, it is considered that the needs of an adult man range between 65 and 70 g per day, and in an adult woman between 54 and 66 g per day. In fact, the protein intake must represent between 12 and 15% of the total caloric intake. As for those who practice intensive muscle building, you have to have between 200 and 300 g of protein per day!
The proteins of animal origin contain all the essential amino acids, something that does not always happen with proteins of vegetable origin. The first ones are in:
- meat and fish (from 15 to 24%)
- cheeses (from 15 to 30%) • eggs (13%)
- dairy products (from 5 to 8%)
- milk (3.5%)
As for proteins of vegetable origin, we find them in:
- the bread (7%)
- cereals, starches, legumes such as soybeans, lentils, dried beans … (from 2 to 5%)
Protein deficiencies are quite rare, but cause fragility, muscle loss, decreased resistance to diseases … On the contrary, the excesses, more frequent, increase the amount of body waste (urea, uric acid … ), which prevents the kidneys from eliminating them completely, which increases the level of proteins in the blood.